Consequent upon the growing concern about the recent increase in the incidence of gastroenteritis in Lagos State, the State Government has activated an Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) to coordinate response against the outbreak of the disease as well as other infectious diseases.
According to the Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi who inaugurated the centre on Wednesday, “the EOC is a command and control centre headquartered in the Ministry of Health that will coordinate and fine tune logistics and resources in response to the increase in numbers of diarrhea and vomiting recorded in the past weeks in five local government area of Lagos State”
He noted that EOC which is made up of representatives from the Ministry of Health, Primary Health Care Board, Health Service Commission, Lagos Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA), World Health Organization and Central Public Health Laboratory amongst others will be meeting on a daily basis; collating results, reviewing plans and interventions as well as suggesting and coordinating the implementation of measures to effectively curtail the spread of the disease and manage future occurrences promptly and effectively.
“The EOC is made up of sub thematic areas of surveillance and laboratory; communication, health education and social mobilization; case management and infection control as well as logistics and data management. We are going to have a complete narratives of what happened during these past weeks on lessons learnt and how we going to move forward”, the Commissioner said.
Abayomi stated that the state government has been proactive in its response and management of the excess cases of vomiting and diarrhea since the report was made and investigation commenced.
The Commissioner revealed that some samples which was collected in the course of the investigation and sent to the laboratory tested positive to a type of cholera. He disclosed further that investigation is still on going to ascertain whether cholera is solely responsible for the entire cases or whether there are other pathogens involved in the excess cases recorded.
“We have been able to send some samples to our laboratories and some of those samples tested positive for a type of cholera but we are not sure whether cholera is responsible for the entire outbreak of diarrhea and vomiting but we are sending some other samples to other laboratories and we are going to do some in-depth analysis to see whether this is just a case of cholera or whether there are other pathogens or agents that are contributing to this outbreak,” he said.
Abayomi added that disease surveillance officers at the State and local government level are currently carrying out intensive surveillance to stop the spread of the disease, stressing that the state is currently devising various strategies to forestall future occurrences.
“We are really taking this as an opportunity to strengthen our response and preparedness so that we can come on top of this situation very quickly. We have learnt a lot of lessons today, we have a lot of resource in Lagos, we just need a better way of coordinating the response and making sure that we are able to distribute our resource under this kind of circumstances’’.
“We have also put in place some measures and specific action plans, so that in the future, when we have this climatic situation where there are excessive rains, we should be in better position to respond proactively and anticipate that we are going to have this kind of scenarios and be in a better position to respond very quickly even in a very more efficacious way to any water born or airborne outbreaks that may happen in our State”, he said.
While noting that Lagos is prone to seasonal infectious diseases like gastroenteritis because of it demography and low line megacity nature, Abayomi assured that the State government will not relent in ensuring that citizens remain safe and healthy noting that well-being of residents is paramount to the present administration.
The Commissioner advised members of the public to pay due attention to personal hygiene and environmental sanitation by keeping their environment clean, avoiding open defecation, ensuring drains are clean and water are able to flow freely and imbibe the culture of regular hand washing.
He urged citizens to visit nearest health facilities early when they are sick and avoid going to work or school where they are likely to infect others.